by JP Terlizzi

I have always valued the notion of family and familial bonds. Growing up in a large, loving extended Italian family I found it disheartening that my relationship with my parents and brother was filled with abandonment, anger, bitterness and hostility. We don’t choose the caregivers to whom we are born, yet we can make our own decisions to positively shape and impact our self-identity and become the kinds of individual we choose.

As I witness an earlier generation of family members pass, it has become important to somehow preserve my past. Not having my own family archive of photos to look back upon, I reached out to a cousin, who is deemed the historian of our family, to go through his photographic archive. As I studied each new face in the three generations that have passed before me, my unconditional love grew stronger as I searched for secrets that each photograph might reveal about the familial lives my ancestors once led.

Through this work I have become interested in the origins of personal identity as it relates to my Italian lineage and its sartorial ancestry. I am curious about how the past relates to the present, and how the bloodline passed down through generations represents the passage of time. Utilizing a digital composite photograph of the old and the new, I incorporate my own blood specimens onto microscopic slides, stitching them on the image to create new family portraits as an archive and memorial that connects my identity with the past while preserving the present.